Saturday, November 5
Ten Years after the Assassination of PM.Yitschak Rabin
Having been present at the Peace Rally at Kikar Malchei Yisrael (renamed Yischak Rabin Square) in Tel Aviv on that fateful night of 4th November 1995 when PM Rabin was assassinated had left all of us traumatized and I will never forget that evening. It had started off on such an optimistic note. There must have been a crowd of about 450 000 people. How well do I remember my feelings prior to that rally! There was growing opposition to the peace process and I had a feeling that very few people would attend the peace rally.
There were violent demonstrations against the Oslo Accords by the right wing in Zion Square, Jerusalem about two weeks before Rabin’s assassination. Benjamin Netanyahu was also present at that demonstration as a passive supporter of the right wing rabble- rousers. Demonization of Rabin had started even prior to that. A placard was held up showing a photo montage of Rabin in SS uniform! I just felt that I had to go to that rally that night to show my support for the peace process. I never attend rallies or demonstrations but somehow I felt that this was an exception.
The crowd came from all over Israel. It was wonderful to be in the company of so many Israeli well wishers – Jews, Moslems, Christians and many other members of the public whose heart had a common desire for peace. We felt that this was a marvelous opportunity to show our solidarity for peace and not to be daunted by the various right wing movements in the country who had made vociferous statements opposing Rabin and the Peace Process. The slogan of the Peace Rally that night was “Yes to Peace, no to Violence”. How well I remember the massive gas filled balloons with slogans and the Meretz insignia hovering over the multitude that were present that evening. It was a warm almost summery evening – rather rare for November in Israel. The demonstration was peaceful apart from a very few right wingers whose presence was hardly felt. They were pushed very much to the side lines that night. My thoughts that evening were focused on hope that the left of centre government of Yitschak Rabin has a chance of moving the Peace Process forward. Many of us felt ecstatic that evening as the peace rally commenced. Many important guests were present and addressed the crowd. There were many Israeli artists who sang between the speeches made. The Jordanian ambassador at the time, Marwan Muasher (today Jordan’s Foreign Minister), gave a stirring speech, followed by Yossi Sarid the leader of Meretz, Shimon Peires and Shlomo Lahat – the ex Mayor of Tel Aviv, who was one of the organizers of the evening. P.M.Yitschak Rabin was the last guest speaker. He gave a rousing speech and the reaction was ecstatic. We all felt at one with him at the time. None of us had any idea that a few moments later he would be assassinated.
The climax of the evening, which left a lump in my throat, was the singing of Shir Hashalom (the Song of Peace) with Miri Aloni, the famous Israeli performer, leading the crowd. PM Rabin, who does not normally sing, was swept up with the emotion of that evening and joined in the singing with the crowd. All in all, the evening was a major success until tragedy struck Rabin down as we left the square to depart home. As we boarded the buses the tragic news broke out and we were left with an indescribable sense of shock.
The build up of hate for Rabin and the Oslo Accords of 1993 was a snowballing process which reached a climax with Rabin’s tragic assassination. In the aftermath of the signing of these accords and the famous handshake of Rabin and Arafat on the White House lawn on 13th September 1993, I remember returning home from work and seeing a display of vicious anti-Rabin posters lining the Geha Highway. Right wing, religious Zionists of the settler movements were holding them up. The posters were frightening and disgusting in content. There were pictures of blood dripping from Rabin wearing an Arafat-style “keffiya”. The dehumanization of Rabin had begun! He was portrayed as a Jewish traitor! These settler supporters were there shouting and waving their horrifying banners. It was then that I felt that the danger to the peace process came from the right wing camp. Extremist right wing rabbis legitimized “Pulsa denura” ceremonies calling for Rabin’s death. These rabbis had great influence on the right wing extremists at the time. It was not surprising that once Rabin was considered “persona non grata” by his extreme right wing opponents, a fanatic assassin in that right wing camp would arise and murder him.
There is no doubt that the extremist right wing camp was responsible for creating the atmosphere for Rabin’s assassination. The violent demonstrations against the Oslo Accords and the Peace Process were viewed by the lunatic fringe in the right wing camp as justifiable. They believed that the Jewish people were in danger as the momentum towards peace with Israel’s Palestinian neighbours would become a reality.
Today, there is a sudden plethora of conspiracy theories. The whole idea of these theories is to minimize the assassin Yigal Amir’s guilt. It is incredible that the idea of allowing Yigal Amir to marry in order to have children is diabolical. This monster does not have the right to exist let alone marry. If he is granted pardon for his crime it would be a disgrace on the judicial system of Israel! Israel is not the same country since that fateful night. Yigal Amir had destroyed the momentum for peace with Rabin’s assassination!